Brian Keene's 'Entombed': A Review
Brian Keene is quickly becoming one of my favorite horror writers. So when Deadite Press announced the release of 'Entombed' I eagerly counted down the days until I had it in my hot little hands. When it arrived, I picked up the puny little story book and laughed a little. Is this a joke? I asked myself. Come to find out, there is a lot about the story that is misleading.
Pete is actually a pretty lucky guy. He's lucky enough to be employed at a historical hotel that comes equipped with a state of the art military bunker. He was even luckier that he and twenty six other people were able to barricade themselves safely inside the bunker as the zombie plague came to town. However, this is where his good luck ends. Slowly but surely, their meager stash of supplies dwindle and disappear. Afraid to go searching for supplies on the outside and facing the undead, the group decide to wait out the enemy. Granted after a few days with empty bellies, a rash decision is made to kill and consume one group member at a time until their chance to escape has arrived. Pete is disgusted by the idea and refuses to participate. He argues that what they plan to do is no different than actually being a zombie. His uncooperative attitude and defiance gain him no allies and is voted first to be sacrificed. As the hunting party draws near, Pete escapes to the upper levels of the bunker, where the undead have already infiltrated. While he would be content living by himself on the upper levels and away from the cannibalistic group, a search party in sent in after him. His only option is to fight against the zombies roaming the hallways, and the living who don't want to lose their meal ticket. Weakened and exhausted, verging on paranoid, Pete dispatches the first round of hunters. Pete calls it self defense, but the others call it cold blooded murder. As more members try to hunt down Pete, he decides to continue fighting for his right to live. Can he convince everyone that he's not the enemy? Can he bring himself to eat the flesh of another? Is everyone simply mad with hunger? Or has Pete's mind already tipped over the edge?
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First of all, I need to clear up one important detail. Many retailers are describing 'Entombed' as a sequel to Keene's popular novel 'Dead Sea', b this is not at all accurate. While 'Entombed' is set in the same time frame, it is a separate story all on its own. I bought the book under the impression that it would follow up with the last cast of characters. While the story itself is fine, it is simply not long enough for my tastes. The sad 134 pages doesn't showcase Keene's usual quality writing, and it left me feeling disappointed. The story flip of having the small group hiding in a safe, secure area is more than enough to catch my interest, but I just didn't feel satisfied. For me, the story doesn't feel complete. There are so many parts of the story that needed to be elaborated, and it feels only half baked to me. Honestly, Pete is a great addition to Keene's cast of protagonists, especially as you watch his sanity slip away bit by bit. Jim (Dead Rising) and Lamar (Dead Sea) were great vessels for despair and desperation and Keene has done well letting us watch Pete sink into derangement, but he just lacks the likability and determination that others characters have. I would have loved to see this turn into a full length novel, that explores the character interactions, allowed characters like Pete to fully develop, to see the build of anxiety and have some follow through at the ending which was left wide open. I've come to expect so much more from Keene, and 'Entombed' just doesn't quite meet my expectations. I'm only giving the story three stars. This tale of the undead just hasn't crawled its way from the grave.
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